Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

most industrious attention be paid to the cultivation of lands and American manufactures, in their various branches, especially the linen and woollen, and that the husbandry might be managed with a particular view thereto; accordingly, that the farmer raise flax, and increase his flock of sheep to the extent of his ability. “We further recommend a serious and steady regard to the rules of temperance, sobriety, and righteousness; and that those laws which have, heretofore, been our security and defence from the hand of violence, may still answer all their former valuable purposes, though persons of vicious and corrupt minds would willingly take advantage from our present situation. “In a word, we seriously and earnestly recommend the practice of that pure and undefiled religion, which embalmed the memory of our pious ancestors, as that alone upon which we can build a solid hope and confidence in the Divine protection and favour, without whose blessing all the measures of safety we have, or can propose, will end in our shame and disappointment.” The next year he was chosen a delegate to the continental congress, and took his seat on the fourth of November sollowing. He was, therefore, not a member of that illustrious body which planned and published the declaration of independence. This was true, also, of Benjamin Rush, George Clymer, James Wilson, George Ross, and George Taylor. But all these gentlemen acceding to the declaration, were permitted to affix their signatures to the engrossed copy of that instrument. During the same year, he was appointed chief justice of the court of common pleas; and not long after was raised to the office of judge of the superior court of New-Hampshire, in which office he remained until 1782. In 1780, he purchased a farm, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Merrimack, near Exeter, where, in connexion with his other diversified occupations, he devoted himself to the business of agriculture. Although advanced in life, he cheerfully granted his professional services, whenever they were required,

and they were at all times highly appreciated. In the municipal affairs of the town, he took a lively interest. Of the general court he was a member for one or two years, and a senator in the state legislature, and served as a member of the council in 1785, under President Langdon. Dr. Thornton was a man of strong powers of mind, and on most subjects to which he directed his attention, was able to elicit light and information. In private life, he was peculiarly instructive and agreeable. The young were delighted with his hilarity and humour. His memory was well stored with entertaining and instructive anecdotes, which he was able to apply upon any incident or subject of conversation. He often illustrated his sentiments by fable. He delighted to amuse a circle of an evening by some fictitious narrative, in which he greatly excelled. At such times, placing his elbows upon his knees, and supporting his head with his hands, he would rivet the attention of his auditors, and astonish them by his powers of invention. In satire he was scarcely equalled. And though he sometimes employed his power immoderately, he was universally beloved, and occupied a large share of the confidence of his neighbours. A single fault of his character should not pass unnoticed. It is asserted, that he betrayed some traits of an avaricious disposition, and sometimes enforced his rights, when if justice did not require, charity dictated a relinquishment of them. If, however, he was severe in his pecuniary claims, he was also strict in the payment of his debts. The powers of Dr. Thornton's mind continued unusually vigorous to a late period of his life. After he was eighty years of age, he wrote political essays for the newspapers, and about this period of life prepared for the press a metaphysical work, comprised in seventy-three manuscript pages in quarto, and entitled, “Paradise Lost; or, the Origin of the Evil called Sin, examined; or how it ever did, or ever can come to pass, that a creature should or could do anything unfit or improper for that creature to do,” &c. This work was never published ; but those who have had access to the manuscript, pronounce it a very singular production.

It is not a little remarkable, that, although a physician, and consequently often exposed to the whooping cough, he did not take that disease until he had passed his eightieth year. Although at this time enfeebled by years, he survived the attack, and even continued his medical practice.

In stature, Dr. Thornton exceeded six feet in height, but he was remarkably well formed. His complexion was dark, and his eyes black and piercing. His aspect was uncommonly grave, especially for one who was naturally given to good humour and hilarity.

Dr. Thornton died while on a visit at Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the 24th of June, 1803, in the 89th year of his age. In the funeral sermon by Rev. Dr. Burnap, we are furnished with the following sketch. “He was venerable for his age, and skill in his profession, and for the several very important and honourable offices he had sustained ; noted for the knowledge he had acquired, and his quick penetration into matters of abstruse speculation ; exemplary for his regard for the public institutions of religion, and for his constancy in attending the public worship, where he trod the courts of the house of God, with steps tottering with age and infirmity. Such is a brief outline of one who was -honoured in his day and generation; whose virtues were a model for imitation, and while memory does her office, will be had in grateful recollection.”

THE

RHODE ISLAND DELEGATION.

STEPHEN Hopkins,
WILLIAM ELLERY.

STEPHEN HOPKINS

STEPHEN HoPKINs was a native of tha eart of Providence which is now called Scituate, where he was born on the 7th of March, 1707. His parentage was very respectable, being a descendant of Benedict Arnold, the first governor of Rhode Island.

His early education was limited, being confined to the instruction imparted in the common schools of the country. Yet it is recorded of him, that he excelled in a knowledge of penmanship, and in the practical branches of mathematics, particularly surveying.

For several years he followed the profession of a farmer. At an early period, he was elected town clerk of Scituate, and some time after was chosen a representative from that town to the general assembly. He was subsequently appointed a justice of the peace, and a justice of one of the courts of common pleas. In 1733, he became chief justice of that court.

In 1742, he disposed of his estate in Scituate, and removed to Providence, where he erected a house, in which he continued to reside till his death. In this latter place he entered into mercantile business, and was extensively engaged in building and fitting out vessels.

When a representative from Scituate, he was elected speaker of the house of representatives. To this latter office he was again chosen after his removal to Providence, and continued to occupy the station for several successive years, being a representative from the latter town. In 1751, he was chosen chief justice of the superior court, in which office he continued till the year 1754. In this latter year he was appointed a commissioner from Rhode Island, to the celebrated convention which met at Albany; which had for its object the securing of the friendship of the five nations of Indians, in the approaching French war, and an union between the several colonies of America. In 1756, he was elected chief magistrate of the colony of Rhode Island, which office he continued to hold, with but few intervals, until the year 1767. In the discharge of the duties of this responsible station, he acted with dignity and decision. The prosperity of his country lay near his heart, nor did he hesitate to propose and support the measures, which appeared the best calculated to promote the interests of the colonies in opposition to the encroachments of British power. At an early period of the difficulties between the colonies and Great Britain, he took an active and decided part in favour of the former. In a pamphlet, entitled, “The rights of colonies examined,” he exposed the injustice of the stamp act, and various other acts of the British government. This pamphlet was published by order of the general assembly, in 1765. The siege of fort William Henry, by the Marquis de Montcalm, 1757, and its surrender to the force under that general, with the subsequent cruel outrages and murders committed by the savages of the French army, are too well known to need a recital in this place. It is necessary only to state, that the greatest excitement prevailed throughout all the colonies. In this excitement, the inhabitants of Rhode Island largely participated. An agreement was entered into by a volunteer corps, couched in the following terms: “Whereas the British colonies in America are invaded by * large army of French and Indian enemies, who have

« AnteriorContinuar »